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Your weekend arts forecast: Who’s in the band?

Bill DeYoung



Wolf Bros: Jay Lane, left, Bob Weir and Don Was. Photo provided.

The former members of the 25-years-defunct Grateful Dead, of course, gather no moss, and singer and guitarist Bob Weir is back on the road with a trio called Wolf Bros. The band, which will be at Jannus Live Sunday, features drummer Jay Lane (from Ratdog, another post-Dead, Weir-fronted group) and none other than record-producing legend Don Was on bass.

Reports from the road say the band’s set are fast-paced and unpredictable, thus far heavy with Dead tunes, Dylan covers and songs from the 72-year-old Weir’s solo career. Tickets here.

The price of nostalgia

Elsewhere, pop music nostalgia is making yet another grand sweep through our neighborhood. Let’s play another round of Who’s in the Band?

Contemporary chart acts do occasionally touch down on Tampa Bay big stages, and a lot of young hipster artists certainly find their way into our clubs, but it seems the majority of concerts in St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Tampa are by singers, bands and performers who had their heyday a long, long time ago (we’re talking to you, RibFest).

Caveat emptor.

REO Speedwagon, one of the 1970s staples of “Classic Rock” radio, plays Ruth Eckerd Hall Sunday. And the show is sold out. That’s just under 2,200 people who want to experience “Can’t Fight This Feeling” and “Keep on Loving You” in an auditorium one more time. And see that big winged logo up in neon again.

Lead singer/songwriter Kevin Cronin, 68, is still in the band, which means that what the crowds will be hearing Sunday night will at least sound like those old records they love. Hopefully.

Which brings us to Little River Band, whose “Cool Change,” “Reminiscing,” “Lonesome Loser” and “Lady” were harmonious breaths of fresh pop air in the late ‘70s. The Australian band headlines Ruth Eckerd’s “’70s Fest” Friday.

Here’s the thing: The lead singer, the guy with the identifiable sound, is no longer in Little River Band. His name is Glenn Shorrock, and he bailed (for the first but not the last time) in 1982. In fact, none of the original members of Little River Band are in Little River Band any more.

So are we merely buying the brand? Survey says yes!

John Waite

Also on the ‘70s Fest bill is the great British singer John Waite, who cut several classics as the frontman for the Babys in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s (“Isn’t it Time,” “Every Time I Think of You,” “Head First”) and for Bad English (“When I See You Smile,” 1987). He had a big solo hit with “Missing You.”

That show begins at 7 p.m. At 5:30, however, Waite is headlining the free, REH-sponsored Blast Friday event on Cleveland Street (heads up, PABLO CRUISE is booked for the March Blast Friday!)

One more for ‘70s Fest: Classic Billy Joel without Billy Joel (and, thankfully, not a tribute band).

The Lords of 52nd Street are, essentially, the guys who made up Joel’s backup band in his glory days: Multi-instrumentalist Richie Cannata, drummer Liberty DeVitto and guitarist Russell Javors.

Tickets and additional info here.

Lucero Friday

Happy to see the hard-rocking Memphis Americana band Lucero back in town Friday at Jannus Live. During my days at Connect Savannah, Ben Nichols and company blew threw town all the time. From one of my interviews, here’s Ben talking about his solo album, The Last Pale Light in the West, which was were inspired by Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s historical novel about murderous outlaws in 1850s America.

At Hendrix College in his native Arkansas, Nichols said, “history was the only subject that I ended up being any good at.”

Which led directly to songwriting. “The part about history that I like the most,” he explained, “is that it’s stories. When it comes down to it. And it’s stories that actually happened. I was never good at interpreting fiction, and I wasn’t as good at the literature classes. But history I could take and kind of dissect it, and maybe say something interesting about it.

“Songwriting was something I’d always just done for fun. And the main part of the lyrics is: Don’t write lyrics that are so bad it messes up the music. That’s always been my philosophy. Keep it simple. Don’t try to get too fancy.”

Tickets and info here.

And still more

Celtic Woman

Jazz guitarist (and former baseball great) Bernie Williams is back in town, tonight (Thursday, Feb. 27) at the Capitol Theatre. Bernie’s sharing the stage with vocalist, songwriter and pianist Sheléa. Tickets.

The Russian National Ballet is back at Ruth Eckerd Hall to perform Sleeping Beauty Saturday. Tickets.

Also returning: Celtic Woman, the quartet of beautiful ladies with heavenly Irish voices – like an eight-legged Enya – Sunday at the Mahaffey. Tickets.

Former astronaut (and Tampa Bay resident) Nicole Stott joins The Florida Orchestra (conducted by Sarah Hicks) for a concert called Out of This World, with music from Star Trek, Holst’s The Planets, Star Wars, E.T. and more. Alongside big-screen, high-def images from the NASA archives, Stott – between orchestral pieces – will talk about her experiences aboard the International Space Station, and discuss the gravity (see what we did there?) of celestial exploration. Friday at the Straz Center, Saturday at the Mahaffey. Tickets.

The orchestra’s Brass Quintet performs “All That Jazz” Sunday at 3 p.m., at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum. Admission is pay-what-you-can.

Celebration of the Arts

The month-long St. Petersburg Celebration of the Arts comes to a close Saturday with TFO’s “Out of This World” concert, which was already on the orchestra’s schedule. OK then!

Friday’s concert, Harmony: Tolerance and Acceptance, was conceived and curated specifically for the Celebration calendar. The St. Petersburg Opera Company program includes contemporary composer Deborah Anderson’s quirky-but-beautiful Five Songs for Kathleen (texts by Emily Dickinson, Sara Teasdale and Sheila Nickerson set to music for oboe, piano and mezzo soprano), plus other classical works for oboe, clarinet, bassoon, flute and piano, and a short set of American spirituals.

Our profile story about the Kuumba African Dancers and drummers, also performing at this event (at Opera Central, 2145 1st Avenue South) appeared Tuesday in the Catalyst.

More weekend – you read about it here

The 2020 St. Petersburg Jazz Festival happens nightly through Sunday at the Palladium Theater. We wrote about it here.

This is also the weekend for American Stage’s New Play Festival, subtitled “21st Century Voices.” Here’s the Catalyst feature on the event.

And the Texas-sized comedy Lone Star Spirits opens Friday at freeFall Theater; our story appeared Wednesday.

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